COVID 19 – Information note

Following yesterday’s government announcements, please find below a summary of the different measures that may affect your business.

New general health measures

decree published on October 29, 2020 specifies the new general health measures that are applicable.

From now on, all travel outside the place of residence is prohibited, with the exception of :

– travel to or from the place of work or job search,
business trips that cannot be postponed;
– travel for the purchase of supplies necessary for the professional activity, purchases of basic necessities, withdrawals of orders and home deliveries;
short trips, within the limit of one hour per day and within a maximum radius of one kilometer around the home, related either to the individual physical activity, excluding any collective sports and any proximity with other persons, or to the walk with only the persons grouped together in the same home, or related to the needs of pets;
– trips to respond to a judicial or administrative convocation or to go to a public service or to a legal professional, for an act or a procedure that cannot be carried out remotely

The certificates and proofs you need for these trips are available here.

Update of the health protocol applicable to companies

On October 29, 2020, the government published a new version of the health protocol applicable to companies. Below are the main points:

Place of work :
– Workers whose tasks can be carried out entirely remotely must work remotely 100% of the time.
– Workers whose tasks cannot be performed remotely are partially working remotely: they can continue to travel to their workplace part of the time but only for activities that cannot be performed remotely. They must be in possession of a certificate provided by the employer.
– Workers whose activities cannot be carried out remotely at all may continue to travel to their place of work and must be in possession of a certificate provided by the employer.
– For activities that cannot be carried out by teleworking, the employer systematically organizes a distribution of the employee’s departure and arrival times in order to limit the number of employees at peak times. The organization of work must be adapted to reduce commuting to and from work and to arrange the time spent at the company to carry out tasks that cannot be carried out at home, in order to reduce social interactions.

The implementation of the measures in the protocol is carried out within the frame of the social dialogue in the company. A Covid referent is designated – it can be the manager in small companies – whose role is to ensure the implementation of the measures and the information of the employees.

The employer must inform the employees of the existence of the “TousAntiCovid” application and of the interest of its activation during working hours.

The employer may organize screening tests for employees who are voluntary: these tests must be fully financed by the employer and carried out under conditions that guarantee their proper performance and the strict preservation of medical confidentiality.

Partial activity

For the S1 and S1bis sectors of the sectors dependent on the activities listed in S1 (in particular the non-food related businesses in the international tourist zone), 100% of the partial activity is covered by the State and the “Unédic” until December 31, 2020, i.e. 100% of the net salary for employees paid at the SMIC and approximately 84% of the net salary up to a limit of 4.5 SMIC.

For the other sectors, the measures will be maintained and extended under current conditions until December 31, 2020.

Support to businesses

Bruno Lemaire, Minister of Economy and Finance, has announced yesterday a new set of measures to support businesses. A total of 15 billion euros will be released to support businesses : around 6 billion euros for the Solidarity Fund, 7 billion euros for partial activity, 1 billion for exemptions from social security contributions and 1 billion to cover part of the companies’ rents.

Solidarity Fund

The solidarity fund will be reactivated for all companies and massively reinforced for the duration of the lockdown.

All businesses and shops with less than 50 employees (previously 10), closed by administrative decision, will be able to receive a compensation of up to 10,000 euros.

Businesses in the specific sectors of tourism, cultural events, etc., which, even without administrative closure, declare a turnover loss of at least 50% will also be able to claim compensation of up to 10,000 euros.

As in March, other businesses in all sectors with less than 50 employees which are allowed to remain open but declare a loss of turnover of more than 50% will be able to obtain compensation of up to 1,500 euros per month.

Exemption from social security charges and contributions

All companies with fewer than 50 employees and which are closed by administrative decision will benefit from total exemption from their social security charges and contributions.

Businesses in the specific sectors of tourism, cultural events, etc., which, even without administrative closure, declare a loss of turnover of at least 50% will also benefit from this total exemption.

Contributions of self-employed workers will be automatically suspended.

Businesses that have already applied to the URSSAF for a schedule of deferred payment of their contributions prior to the lockdown will be able to benefit from a case-by-case reduction in case they encounter serious financial difficulties.

It is also possible to defer payment of contributions by completing a declaration on the URSSAF website.

State Guaranteed Loan and Direct State Loan

Companies will now be able to contract a State Guaranteed Loan until 30 June 2021 (previously 31 December 2020).

The amortisation of the loan could be spread between 1 and 5 additional years at rates of between 1 and 2.5%.

The starting date for repayment of the loan may be further deferred by one year, i.e. two years in total, it being specified that such requests for a deferral will not be considered as a default on the part of the company.

In addition to these new rules regarding the State Guaranteed Loan, direct loans from the State will be created.
These loans may reach up to 10,000 euros for companies with fewer than 10 employees and 50,000 euros for those with between 10 and 50 employees.

For companies with more than 50 employees, the State may grant repayable advances up to a maximum of 3 months’ turnover.

These loans will be available for companies that do not qualify for the State Guaranteed Loan.

Rents

A tax credit will be introduced in the finance bill for 2021 to encourage landlords to waive part of the rents. This measure will benefit companies with less than 250 employees which are administratively closed or in sectors particularly affected by the crisis, such as tourism, etc.
Any landlord who agrees to waive at least one month’s rent over the 3 months of October, November and December 2020 will be able to benefit from a tax credit of 30% of the amount of the rent waived.
This support measure can be cumulated with the solidarity fund.

We also inform you that a new moratorium on commercial rents is currently being examined as part of the bill authorising the extension of the state of health emergency. This moratorium would apply to natural persons and legal entities governed by private law exercising an economic activity affected by an administrative police measure. The eligibility criteria, such as the number of employees and turnover thresholds of the persons concerned as well as the threshold for the declared loss of turnover, must be specified by decree.

This moratorium provides, in particular, that in the event of late payment or non-payment of rents, the tenant may not incur, for the duration of the administrative police measure and for the following two months: interest for late payment, penalties; or any financial measure; or any action, penalty or enforcement measure against him.

The bill also currently provides for a prohibition on suppliers, during this period, to suspend, interrupt or reduce the supply of electricity, gas or water to the tenants concerned and a mandatory deferral of payment deadlines at the request of the tenants.

We will provide you with the details of these measures as soon as the text is passed, which is expected in the next few days.

Click & Collect and Digitalisation

The Minister of the Economy has declared his intention to give all administratively closed businesses the opportunity to set up “click & collect” systems.

He also specified that the State would provide financial resources to enable French VSEs to speed up their digitalisation in order to facilitate, in particular, take-away sales and home deliveries.

Tourism stimulus plan

The government has set up a tourism stimulus plan which may apply to some of your businesses located in International Tourism Zones. We invite you to check your eligibility for support on the Plan Tourisme website.

**

Details on the above measures will be published shortly. You can already check the presentation. 

In the meantime, please find a summary of the measures already in place, which will probably be updated shortly.

Finally, you will find below several links summarising the steps to be taken for :

– The solidarity fund: https://www.economie.gouv.fr/covid19-soutien-entreprises/fonds-de-solidarite-pour-les-tpe-independants-et-micro

– The State Guaranteed Loan : https://www.economie.gouv.fr/covid19-soutien-entreprises/pret-garanti-par-letat

– Exemption from social security and employers’ contributions :

https://mesures-covid19.urssaf.fr

https://www.msa.fr/lfy/employeur/exoneration-cotisations-covid-19

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